The term legend must surely apply to Don Letts. He is appearing at The Con Club in Lewes on Saturday 14th July are tickets are flying out the door! Honestly, at the time of writing there aren’t many left.
So before I tell you more, here’s where to buy them from: https://www.seetickets.com/event/don-letts/lewes-con-club-lewes/1202838 and http://www.wegottickets.com/event/430930 or visit: https://unionmusicstore.com/news/box-office-listings-1
Right then……….where do I start? Well, here we go……
He was born in London in 1956 and was deeply inspired by the Jamaican music of his parents homeland including Bob Marley.
From 1975 he ran a clothes shop called Acme Attractions on the Kings Road in Chelsea, where they sold electric-blue zoot suits and jukeboxes, and Don played pumping dub reggae records all day long. Word got out and it became a serious hang out for all the punks and rastas and thus Acme were attracting the likes of The Clash, the Sex Pistols, Chrissie Hynde (Pretenders), Patti Smith, Deborah Harry (Blondie) and Bob Marley.
The Acme accountant/promoter, Andrew Czezowski, saw the potential here and started up The Roxy (located at 41–43 Neal Street in London’s Covent Garden), the first punk-rock venue in London, so that people could go from the store and have some place to party. Don Letts was the first house DJ.
As punk was very new, there weren’t many punk bands around at the time and most of those hadn’t as yet released any records and so Don played many dub and reggae records in his sets. This directly influenced those early punk bands and so acts like The Clash simply played the style of music similar to what they were enjoying listening to Don playing. So as a homage The Clash released their 10” ‘Black Market Clash’ EP with a shot of Don on the cover. (I thankfully still have my copy purchased at the time).
Having made a success of DJing at The Roxy, Letts decided to get into band management and so quit Acme Attractions and headed off on tour with The Slits (who incidentally have a dub vibe about them!). They were on The Clash ‘White Riot’ tour with The Buzzcocks.
It was here that Don switched from management to filming music videos as he was given a Super 8 video by a fashion editor and Don started his filming career with the legendary Clash ‘White Riot’ vid in 1977 and with the follow up ‘Tommy Gun’ in 1978.
He had made great use of his Super 8 during the heady days at The Roxy in 1977, when he filmed all the new punk bands there. This turned in to an aptly titled film called ‘The Punk Rock Movie’ in 1978. Thankfully he had captured for history recordings of the Sex Pistols, The Clash, Siouxsie & The Banshees, Generation X, the aforementioned Slits and Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers to name just a few.
Don went on to record many more music videos including ‘London Calling’ by The Clash, ‘Pass The Dutchie’ by Musical Youth, and ‘Everyday I Write The Book’ by Elvis Costello & The Attractions. He also continued making films and his 2000 documentary film ‘The Clash: Westway To The World’ won him a Grammy.
In 1984 Letts co-founded the band Big Audio Dynamite with Clash guitarist Mick Jones and they had albums and singles chart successes.
In 2006 he published his autobiography ‘Culture Clash: Dread Meets Punk Rockers’ and from 2009 he he been presenting his weekly radio show on BBC Radio 6.
Check out Don’s filmography on IMDb here: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0504824/
Discover Don Letts ‘Culture Clash Radio’ on BBC iPlayer Radio:
Don Letts at The Con Club, Lewes: https://www.lewesconclub.com/whats-on/173-saturday-14th-july-2018-don-letts.html
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